Snatched: The Story of Snowkit

Snowkit was always assumed dead by ThunderClan. But what if he wasn't? What if StarClan took him away from the Clan that would have never given him a chance? What if he had a greater destiny than anyone in ThunderClan could have believed?


12. Break

The fresh-kill was almost completely gone by the time the group began moving. Lightning and Moss were at the head of the group, each carrying a kit. Mud was directly behind, with Slate and Tabby following after. Gleam was at the very back, herding her kits and Snowpaw forward. Snowpaw glanced over his shoulder to see their camp one last time, before the forest hid it from view.

Snowpaw kept his mouth open, tasting the air and scenting, in case the Pride was following them. He glanced up at the sky nervously; the moon was still sinking downward; it would brush the horizon soon. Snowpaw swallowed nervously, and began padding along more quickly.

They had to stop and rest ever so often, for Moss; she hadn't been out of the den for some time and was still weak. Sorrelkit and Willowkit squeaked blindly most of the time, only quieting when Moss suckled them. It added another worry to Snowpaw's list; if the Pride followed them, it would be easy to follow the sound of the kits.

A small stream soon joined them, trickling merrily beside them as they walked. Snowpaw glanced down at the stream, watching his reflection as the water flowed smoothly over the rocks.

"How far is it to the city?" Frostpaw asked beside him, pressing her pelt against his. Snowpaw glanced away from the stream towards her, shrugging slightly.

"I don't exactly remember," he admitted. "I mean, it was a short while ago…like a moon or so."

Frostpaw nodded slowly. "I don't want to go too far from home," she admitted. "I mean, I know if we don't that Fear will find us…but this is my home, this is the only place I've been…ever. It is scary to leave it. I can only imagine how you felt, before." She nuzzled his side.

"Yeah," Snowpaw said softly, unsure of how to reply. The pain of losing his mother and Clan had dulled somewhat, as he had grown closer to Moss and his new Clan. It was still always there, however, gnawing at him like an itch he couldn't scratch.

Soon, dawn began casting rosy streaks across the sky. Snowpaw kept looking behind him every few steps, anxious to spot what his ears couldn't hear. If Fear and her Pride were coming, it would be vital that the Clan was alerted before they attacked. Otherwise, there was no doubt that they would all be killed.

"Do you think Fear will follow us?" Frostpaw asked, making Snowpaw turn to her. However, she was not asking him, but Tabby. Tabby glanced over her shoulder at Frostpaw, and gave a little shrug, falling back so that she was touching Snowpaw so he could hear too.

"It depends," Tabby replied.

"On what?" Frostpaw asked.

"On whether she thinks we're leaving for good, or only temporarily," Tabby said. "If she thinks we're clearing out for good, she'll leave us alone…but she's too smart to think that. If she thinks we might be coming back, she'll come after us to ensure that we won't."

Frostpaw nodded nervously, and Snowpaw swallowed again. Then, Mud turned around, saying,

"It's dawn now, which means Fear is on her way to camp. Once she realizes we aren't there she might come after us, so let's move!"

The pace increased slightly, and the direction changed, so that they were no longer walking beside the stream, but were instead moving away from it.

They walked for hours, glancing over their shoulders often and nervously. Those first few hours were the worst, Snowpaw would remember, because the threat of being caught was hanging over their heads the entire time.

Finally, at sunhigh, the group halted for a short break. If Fear hadn't found them yet, she probably wasn't coming after them at all. Not only that, but despite their somewhat slow pace, they were nearing the borders of Lightning's territory, which meant the end of the forest and the beginning of the land between the forest and Twolegplace.

"I'm so tired," Frostpaw complained, flopping onto the ground with her siblings. Snowpaw sat down next to them, spreading his weight out over the dirt as much as he could, to help relieve heat. Leaf-fall was close, but that didn't mean that Snowpaw wouldn't get hot marching through the forest; his fur was very thick, almost smothering, although he knew he would be thankful for it come leaf-bare.

They were soon up and at it again, padding along through the forest. Snowpaw raised his nose to the air, catching a scent; the scent of the border. Snowpaw bit his lip as they drew near it, and then past it; and just like that, his home was gone…and only StarClan knew if he would ever be back.

As they passed the border, the urgency seemed to be gone from the group. Their steps were slower, their glances backward less frequent. Every cat – save perhaps the kits – knew they were leaving their home for what might be for good.

The border had been marked at the edge of the forest, and so once they passed it, the forest began to thin out. The large, majestic trees were replaced with saplings fighting each other for sunlight, and low-growing plants taking advantage of the sunlight available, without the giants stealing it all. It became much harder going, with brambles and thistles sticking in their pelts with each pawstep. Gradually the grass was becoming higher as well, until it was difficult for Snowpaw to see the cats in front of him. They were in a large field now, a field that sloped down gently. As the sunlight dimmed, Snowpaw could make out the lights of the Twolegplace in the distance.

To make a camp, the cats gathered around and began pressing down the grass, creating a small flat area in the otherwise unmarked field. It was fun for the apprentices; they were allowed to race around and tackle each other into the grass, so long as they were pressing it down.

Moss settled down to nurse her kits with a slight sigh of relief. Lightning sat near her, his face turned into the gentle breeze, his amber eyes searching for the forest. The other cats were facing the city, some gazing at it in awe, some with fear in their eyes. What awaited them there, in that unknown place?

Tabby seemed uneasy, glancing towards the Twolegplace and away again rapidly. Snowpaw realized that if Tabby had been a kittypet, she had doubtlessly lived somewhere in that Twolegplace. Perhaps her friends were there, her family…did she ever miss them? Did she ever want to go back? Did she ever regret her decision?

Slate came to sit beside Tabby, and she leaned against him, resting her head on his chest. Again, Snowpaw was struck by how close they were. Tabby acted like an apprentice, but she clearly was not; she was older than any apprentice. Slate looked old, but perhaps that was his maturity. How old were the two of them, really? How close in age were they? Their relationship had appeared to be mentor and apprentice when Snowpaw had first joined, but now he realized it was something much more complex. They weren't mates, they weren't related, they weren't mentor and apprentice, but they weren't friends either. They were…partners? Tabby's youth and playfulness brought life and light into Slate's own life, and his maturity and steadfastness kept Tabby grounded in reality. Together, they were a perfect team, a seamless team. The two of them could probably make it in the wild together, if they wanted to.

But, for some reason, they had decided to stay here with Lightning. Again, Snowpaw found himself wondering about this. How had Lightning and Moss met, become mates? How had Mud, Slate, and Tabby joined? Gleam had joined because her kits were too weak to journey and Cricketpaw had been sick, Snowpaw knew, but what of the others? He was surprised that the thought had never entered his mind, the idea that he was not the only outside here.

"What are you thinking about?" Frostpaw said curiously as she sat down beside it. Snowpaw glanced away from Tabby and Slate, into her mismatched eyes. She blinked at him, and Snowpaw shrugged.

"I was just…wondering," Snowpaw said quietly.

"About our home?" Frostpaw asked. Snowpaw nodded, willing to allow Frostpaw to make that assumption. It would be easier to explain.

"You promised we would win it back, and I'm holding you to that promise," Frostpaw said. Her voice was grave, but her eyes twinkled at him. Snowpaw smiled.

"Of course, I'd never break a promise to you," he purred, licking her ear. Frostpaw twitched her ear at him, and rubbed her tail over his nose, tickling it. Snowpaw sneezed, and then grinned at her.

"That sneeze means war!" he declared, and pounced on her suddenly. Surprised, Frostpaw was pinned to the ground, but she recovered quickly, wiggling around and twisting so Snowpaw couldn't keep his grip on her. Snowpaw lost his balance and crashed onto his side, and then Frostpaw was standing on top of him, grinning down at him. She bent down and nipped his ear again, before her tail returned to his nose, causing Snowpaw to sneeze again.

"And that sneeze ends the war," Frostpaw said smoothly, stepping off of him, and shaking her white coat to rid herself of the dirt. Snowpaw remained on the ground, gazing up at the sky. The sun's last streaks of light remained, casting pink and orange alongside white stars.

"Silverpelt," he said softly, remembering the name of the stars. Frostpaw looked up at the sky, and then back down to him with a quizzical look on her face.

"Silverpelt," Snowpaw explained, pointing upwards with one white paw. "It is what we call the stars, in my Clan. When you die you have stars in your pelt, and you yourself become a star, shining up there forever."

Frostpaw laid down beside him, rolling onto her back with her paws over her chest. She scooted closer to him so that their pelts were touching. Snowpaw turned his head slightly, blinking at where their pelts met. They created a fluffy cloud of white, with no line dividing his pelt from hers. Seamless.

"So which cat is that one?" Frostpaw asked, pointing up at one of the stars. Snowpaw laughed quietly.

"We can't pick out each one," he explained. "That would take too long, and imagine trying to teach your kits that! No cat can count all of the stars, so we don't know for sure if there is a new one when a cat dies…but we have to believe that. We can't only believe in things we can see."

Frostpaw nodded slowly. "Do…." She hesitated. "Do you think I'll go to StarClan?" she asked quietly.

Snowpaw was silent for a moment. "Only Clan cats make it to StarClan," he said finally. Frostpaw turned to him, her eyes shining with worry. "But I think you're a Clan cat at heart," Snowpaw continued, and licked her nose. Frostpaw smiled at him and returned her eyes to the sky, and the two of them sat together in silence as the sun disappeared and the moon rose, bathing the field in gentle light.

* * *

Snowpaw woke up to find his face covered in white fur. He blinked slowly and rose his head, realizing that his face had been pressed against Frostpaw's side. He blinked again. When had he fallen asleep? He moved away from Frostpaw so as not to disturb her, letting out a yawn and stretching. He blinked up at the sky. The sun was well on its way to the peak of its journey. Snowpaw glanced around. Mud was missing, and so was Tabby and Slate. They must have been out hunting for the group. Lightning was awake, standing guard, his amber eyes sweeping over the field. The way the sun shone down on his ginger fur made Snowpaw think of a lion, a proud majestic creature looking over his pride.

That thought brought him to Fear's Pride, and he nervously approached Lightning. "Is there any sign of them?" he asked. He didn't have to explain who 'they' were; Lightning already knew.

Lightning shook his head. "Mud, Tabby, and Slate are checking the border now," he said quietly. "When they return after hunting, they'll let us know how things are."

Snowpaw nodded slowly, and Lightning turned the full force of his amber gaze onto the white apprentice.

"Are you sure about this?" he growled. "Are we doing the right thing, to leave our home and become a…Clan?"

Snowpaw nodded. "I believe in StarClan, and they've been guiding me," he said. "Were it not for them, I don't believe I would have ever survived that hawk attack, or found any of you. It is our destiny here. If we had stayed, we would all be dead now. We wouldn't have stood a chance."

Lightning sighed quietly. "I hope you're right," he said wearily, and turned towards Moss and his sleeping kits.

A rustle in the grass made Lightning's head turn. Snowpaw followed his lead, and Mud, Tabby, and Slate appeared, pushing through the grass into camp. In their jaws were several plump mice, which they laid down in the center of the camp.

"We've got more, I'll go get them," Tabby said quickly, bounding back into the grass like an over-excited rabbit.

"Well?" Lightning asked. Mud took a step forward, accepting Snowpaw's tail when he offered it.

"Fear isn't pursuing us, that we can tell," Mud growled. "However, her warriors have scented over our border. Our territory is officially hers now…but she seems content that we're leaving for good. She probably thinks that we won't risk Moss's kits by coming back anytime soon, and she probably doubts our ability to find new recruits in the Twolegplace."

Lightning closed his eyes with a quiet sigh, and Snowpaw could see that losing his territory was a great blow to the lion-like cat.

"We'll prove them wrong and win it back," Lightning said finally, and Mud nodded.

Slate took a step forward, and Snowpaw quickly moved his tail to the dark tom. "This field is rich in prey, and can sustain several cats for some time," Slate said, "but not a group of our size."

Lightning waited for Slate to continue. "Moss's kits won't be safe in Twolegplace, according to Tabby," Slate said finally. "She didn't want to admit it to you, but that's where she once lived. She was born on the streets, and her mother had to take care of her all by herself. Tabby was the only kit to survive, and when she was about six moons old her mother was killed on a Thunderpath. Tabby was alone and had to survive on her own for a little while until she found a family to take her in. My point is, Moss's kits are too young to survive, and Willowkit isn't very strong. I think it would be best if Moss stayed behind, with another warrior. The other warrior could provide for her while she takes care of her kits. She'll just have to wait until we come back."

Lightning bowed her head. "I don't want to be separated from her," he said, "but if we're going to find more cats for our group, we'll need me as the leader, to reassure them they have a place here…." He sighed. "What warrior would you recommend staying behind?"

"Tabby knows the city well, so she'll have to come," Slate replied. "Mud is of course your second in command and a brilliant fighter, and cannot be spared. Gleam's kits will come even if you tell them they cannot, and Snowpaw is of course necessary. Gleam won't be anywhere without her kits, even though she would be a good companion for Moss."

"That only leaves you," Lightning said, and Slate bowed his head.

"Yes," he said softly, staring at his paws. "I…don't want to leave Tabby, but at the same time I am the only one who can at this moment in time. I told Tabby she would collect the rest of the prey so I could speak with you about this." He raised his green eyes to Lightning, and Snowpaw could see the worry resting in them…along with something else. Pleading? Some sort of hidden motive?

Lightning sighed. "Tabby won't be pleased with this," he said. "She'll want to stay with you."

"You'll just have to tell her that you need her with you more," Slate said, and Lightning studied him for a moment, as if he was searching Slate's face for something that Snowpaw couldn't see. Finally, Lightning nodded.

"You'll stay behind," Lightning said, and Snowpaw thought he saw relief flash over Slate's face before Slate wiped himself clean of emotion again. Slate nodded, and padded away. Mud glanced at Snowpaw and then at Lightning, before padding away as well.

Tabby came back some time later with more prey clutched in her jaws. She placed it on the pile, and then trotted over to Lightning. Snowpaw carefully selected a mouse and settled down to eat it. He kept his muzzle facing down towards his prey, but glanced up at Tabby and Lightning every few moments. At first, Tabby was nodding to whatever Lightning was saying. Then, disbelief and hurt flashed over her face. She said something quickly, her face frowning, almost looking angrily. Lighting's expression didn't change, but from the look on Tabby's face, Snowpaw knew Lighting was trying to speak soothingly, and Tabby didn't want to be soothed. She said something else, and her mouth opened wide so Snowpaw knew she was yelling. Lightning looked surprised, and he blinked for a moment. Tabby spat out something else, before stalking away into the grass. Lightning sighed quietly, and turned away, padding back to Moss. Snowpaw glanced around quickly for Slate, finding him with his own mouse, eating it quietly and refusing to look upwards, to look at any of the questioning stares directed at him.

"What was that about?" Snowpaw felt Frostpaw ask as she sat down beside him. Cricketpaw sat down on his other side. Snowpaw chewed and swallowed before speaking.

"Slate volunteered to stay behind with Moss and her kits, because they won't be safe in the Twolegplace," Snowpaw explained. "Tabby isn't too happy about it."

"Why would he do that?" Cricketpaw asked curiously. "Gleam was fine with going, I heard her talking to Moss about it on the way here yesterday. Surely Slate asked her?"

Snowpaw chewed again, thinking. Why would Slate volunteer to stay behind and away from Tabby? Didn't he know it would hurt her, breaking up the perfect team like that? It would only be for a moon or two, but still…didn't he know Tabby would be devastated to be away from him that long?

"Strange," Snowpaw remarked. "But that is there business, not ours. Slate doesn't want to talk about it and I'm sure Tabby doesn't, so let's not ask either of them, okay?"

"I'm glad Mother is coming, though," Cricketpaw said quietly. "I wouldn't want to go anywhere without her. I may be older, but I'm still not brave."

"Of course you're brave," Frostpaw said, and Snowpaw felt her tail reach over him to touch Cricketpaw's flank. "You're an apprentice, aren't you? You have to be brave to be an apprentice, to even try!"

"I guess," Cricketpaw said, before changing the subject quickly. "Can I have some of that?" he asked Snowpaw, pointing to his mouse. Snowpaw pushed what was left of the mouse to Cricketpaw, who began nibbling it. Frostpaw went to get her own, and when she returned she was too busy chewing to speak, which Snowpaw was thankful for. He wanted to think, to try and puzzle it out. Why was Slate breaking up the perfect team?

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